Humboldt Beacon (http://www.humboldtbeacon.com)

Amtrak engine hits boulder; train overnights in New Mexico


By Paul Davenport, Associated Press

Friday, October 6, 2017

Passengers and crew aboard a Chicago-bound Amtrak train spent the night stopped in northern New Mexico hill country after the lead engine struck a boulder and partially derailed.

No serious injuries were reported but the two engineers in the lead engine were taken to a hospital for evaluation, Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari said Friday from Chicago.

The incident occurred Thursday evening on Burlington Northern Santa Fe tracks in a rural area near Watrous (WAH'-trohse) about 105 miles (169 kilometers) northeast of Albuquerque.

Magliari said the nine-car train carrying 132 passengers and 14 crew members resumed its journey from Los Angeles to Chicago Friday morning after the boulder was removed and the tracks repaired.

The train's second engine and all the cars remained on the tracks and the train still had power, heating and toilet service while it remained at the derailment site, the Amtrak spokesman said.

The train left Los Angeles Wednesday night and was scheduled to arrive in Chicago Friday afternoon.

"They will be significantly delayed in arriving in Chicago," Magliari said.

Passengers who missed connections to other trains would be provided housing at Amtrak's expense he said.

Joe Sloan, a BNSF spokesman, said the boulder was reportedly 5 feet (1.5 meters) in diameter and it apparently rolled down or dropped off a nearby ridge, possibly due to rain or other weather conditions.

After the train resumed its journey and reach Raton, New Mexico, BNSF provided a freight engine to help the train get over Raton Pass, the highest point on the 2,266-mile (3647-kilometer) Southwest Chief route, Magliari said.